Welcome to the weekly Vox book link roundup, a curated selection of the best online writing about books and related topics. Here’s the best the internet has to offer for the week of June 18, 2017.
- Have you read Zadie Smith’s essay in Harper’s on Get Out, Open Casket, and the question of who owns black pain? It’s been mildly controversial, but Smith is such a thoughtful, lucid essayist that it’s worth reading regardless of whether you agree with her:
Peele has found a concrete metaphor for the ultimate unspoken fear: that to be oppressed is not so much to be hated as obscenely loved. Disgust and passion are intertwined. Our antipathies are simultaneously a record of our desires, our sublimated wishes, our deepest envies. The capacity to give birth or to make food from one’s body; perceived intellectual, physical, or sexual superiority; perceived intimacy with the natural world, animals, and plants; perceived self-sufficiency in a faith or in a community. There are few qualities in others that we cannot transform into a form of fear and loathing in ourselves.
- Millennials use public libraries more than any other generation, the Huffington Post reports. This feels correct to me, as libraries combine millennials’ two favorite things: immersive, escapist pop culture and free stuff. (Millennials are broke because they inherited a broken economy, is the joke here.)
- An actual, real live teenager has registered some complaints regarding the books adults write for her. Girl has some valid issues:
A lot of YA books I read have main characters who read like they’re in college already. They rarely rely on family, they smoke, and they go on crazy road trips.
I admit this is a really tricky one for writers to capture, because most teenagers THINK that they’re twenty-somethings. Here’s the trick to teenagers: All of us are trying to be older than we really are. As I’ve mentioned before, teenagers are weird creatures. You feel like you’re too young to do anything of importance, so you try to act older. Because it’s cool. Because it makes you feel like you have things under control.
- Speaking of books for young people, Atlas Obscura has rounded up a list of children’s books their readers wish more people remembered. Worry not, Kate Watkins of Orange County, Jenay Solomon of Nebraska, and Megan Butterfield of Vermont: I can assure you that I personally will never forget Time Windows (the book that taught me damn was short for damnation!), The Enchanted Forest Chronicles (rightfully beloved among a certain set of fantasy nerds, of whom I am one), or The Girl With the Silver Eyes (which convinced me that as I too liked books and animals, I might be telekinetic; alas, I was not).
- At the New Yorker’s website, Sarah Hutto endorses a few writers looking for their forever home:
Charlotte would do well in a home where three square meals are placed in front of her each day. She would also benefit from being reminded to shower and having her phone confiscated at night. She’d make a great companion for anyone seeking a poorly adjusted, emotionally unavailable woman to sit in a chair in the corner and stare at her laptop while mumbling.
- At Broadly, Ilana Masad wonders why beach reads are so often coded as feminine:
"'Beach reads' are generally considered fluff pieces for fluff readers, which is a coded way of saying 'lady books for lady readers,'" said Alexandra Franklin, assistant to literary agent Vicky Bijour, echoing many of the responses I received on social media. Which, she added, is a designation that makes her very uncomfortable. "For some reason when I think 'beach reads' I usually think of 'women's fiction,' but when someone mentions an 'airport book' or 'airplane read' I usually think of mass market 'men's' thrillers, like Tom Clancy."
- It is insufferable to call your personal library the Library of the History of Human Imagination, as Jay Walker does, but nevertheless I have been staring at pictures of Walker’s library in rapt envy for the past five minutes.
- The world’s first known poet was a woman:
Though hardly anyone knows it, the first person ever to attach their name to a poetic composition is not a mystery. Enheduanna was born more than 4,200 years ago and became the high priestess of a temple in what we now call southern Iraq. She wrote poems, edited hymnals, and may have taught other women at the temple how to write. Archaeologists discovered her in the 1920s and her works were published in English beginning in the 1960s. Yet, rarely if ever does she appear in history textbooks.